Our Future Towns: Community Place Making and Transport Planning



The Royal College of Art has released a new report following from a project instigated and part funded by the Transport Planning Society (TPS). The report summarises our design research with industry partners, local councils and charities in the communities of Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, Haltwhistle and surrounding parishes in Northumberland and Lyme Regis in Dorset.

The Covid19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our interconnected world: from the importance of our local communities to the impacts on our health, our study, our work and our natural environment.

In response to this and wider challenges about the future, designers from the Royal College of Art supported by TPS, as well as the CIHT, RTPI, and private organisations ITP, UK Regeneration and MBC, have come together to seek a better way forward.

Our Future Towns demonstrates a new approach to working with communities that will support the changes we need as a society, and that directly connects with government objectives on climate change and transport. It works in a collaborative way that changes the dynamics of a community and supports greater local autonomy.

“We are very excited to be involved with this project which is helping us to create a vision of how we, the community, want to live, work and move around our area as well as how best to welcome visitors, all in a sustainable and economic way. Our involvement is already facilitating conversations with organisations, statutory bodies, businesses and individuals which we hope will lead to a more holistic way forward that is rooted in community participation.” Julie Gibbon, Chair, Haltwhistle Partnership

“People in Lyme Regis greatly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in 'Our Future Town', explore their sense of belonging and pride in our town while expressing frustration over day-to-day difficulties and the challenges to change. In the hands of the skilled artists and designers at the RCA, our collective ideas and hopes were turned into creative visions of a calmer, greener, more community focused and environmentally friendly town centre.” Belinda Bawden, Town Councillor, Lyme Regis

“The frustrations expressed by members of our community about the existing problems of car usage mean that we are very keen to work with them to find alternative solutions to mobility within our town and beyond.” Cllr Madeline Russell, Mayor, Biggleswade

Key highlights of the work include:

  • We need more creativity in the way we work with people to solve the problems that we face - focusing on the real opportunities around wellbeing, resilience and inclusion and taking people with us – their hearts and their minds – so we can all take action and imagine a better future together
  • Our Future Town aims to create a bridge between ground - up community transitions and strategic and sustainable place making and mobility planning.
  • We used a systems approach that understands that the greatest levers of change happen when we engage with people's philosophies, feelings and knowledge.
  • The four steps in this approach include listening to each other, learning together, helping people to imagine the future and providing support to make changes that matter.
  • We developed a rich listening tool that turns people’s hopes, fears, loves and concerns into a shared experience that includes maps of possible futures and potential utopias and dystopias that summarise a community’s opportunities and challenges.
  • We created learning and change cards that help people to build a shared understanding of the issues involved in place-making and transport planning, and use visualisations to highlight the community impact of our current ways of living.
  • We designed prototype interfaces for digital maps and street views that allow people to ‘drag and drop’ new routes and paths for walking and cycling and identify places and buildings that needed more than just a lick of paint.
  • We also imagined augmented reality tools that allow people to see what these changes would look like on their mobile phones and to be able to comment on and share these at home or when out and abou

The TPS and RCA are now establishing future partners and funding streams as well as working with existing communities and new developments to find ways of testing and developing these tools collaboratively.

The project was led by the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre at the RCA and included an interdisciplinary team from mobility design, architecture, communication and service design. Stakeholders who provided additional knowledge include Living Streets, Sustrans, The RAC Foundation, The National Association of Local Councils, The Centre for Ageing Better and Social Research Associates Ltd.

A recording of the presentation given at Transport Planning Day 2020 by Lynda Addison, OBE and Dan Phillips from the Royal College of Art can be found here https://vimeo.com/icegroup/review/480307552/22f3434542 s

Download the report here https://rca-media2.rca.ac.uk/documents/RCA_OFT_v1_hnNddRQ.pdf

For further information or images please contact the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre ℅ imdc@rca.ac.uk, visit https://www.rca.ac.uk/research-innovation/projects/our-future-towns-community-placemaking-and-transport-planning/



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